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Wed, Nov. 7th, 2007, 03:41 pm
Stylus R.I.P

Another week, another label / publication has folded. In case people missed it, Stylus magazine ceased publication on Halloween, ending years of some of the finest writing on music and film found online. Explanations of why they folded were rather cryptic on the site, but it doesn't take much to do the math when one considers the current atmosphere in the music / periodical publication businesses (I still suggest you read the pseudo-eulogies on the site).

I have always found Stylus to be thoroughly thoughtful and insightful with their reviews, and their articles (revisiting old albums, pondering interesting themes with eclectic top 10 lists, and igniting debate with their compare/contrast pieces) are unsurpassed in the online music community. The loss is even greater in my mind when compared to the continued decline of critique and analysis found on the much vaunted Pitchfork. When I read a review on Pitchfork I find myself feeling the same way I do when I read a film review film in the Globe & Mail: "Hmmm ok, but did you like it or not?" Stylus was always clear and concise when discussing new records, and writers were never constrained in terms of embracing or lambasting albums and artists that didn't fit in with particular genres or scenes. Stylus's unpredictability and refreshing cleverness made it different.

And with the folding of Stylus a questions need to be raised about how this reflects on the music biz. It is often argued by those unconcerned by the continual decline of record sales and the subsequent economic turmoil experienced by labels, distributors and retail stores, that this overturning in the industry is really revitalizing music by allowing music to flourish online cheaply and promoting more artists to hit the road to promote their music. Much has been said about Radiohead's revolutionary move with their new record, but as a study released today shows, Radiohead was bold and ambitious but in reality it simply is not economically feasible for most musicians to move in this direction at this time. This is not to suggest that there won't be a time where it is viable, but you have to wonder what these figures say about the music buyer/listener. Taking this into consideration, with the decline of one of the leading online music publications, and I'm not sure what to make of it all. As labels, magazines and stores continue to fold one is left concerned with what happens to artists who can't tour or artists/labels who don't have the financing/know-how to take their music online. I can't say either that Stylus's decline is directly linked to the music industry's troubles, nor do I think other online publications are going to start dropping off, but I do think some links have to be made and that's not even taking into account other economic factors like the inflationary pressures and tumultuous currency issues in the US that are affecting how music is bought and sold.

At least vinyl sales are up! And on that note....
On the Hop

Phosphorescent- Pride LP
  • Putting side the very strong resemblance to Will Oldham vocally, this record is really great. The most haunting and intimate lyrics and vocals of any album i've heard this year, this is a dusty ensemble chorus that at times rocks you to your core with the darkness evoked in the great tracks "The Waves at Night" and "Be Dark Night." Not ground breaking by any stretch, but still great.
Young Knives - Terra Firma 7"
  • They're back! Following up on their amazing debut comes England's best band with their new single. While other rock bands like the Klaxons, Enemy, and the Arctic Monkeys get the press and NME cred, the Young Knives are the real deal. Similar in style to their first record, "Terra Firma" continues in the tight angled Jam-inspired garage rock that typified the first album.
Heavy Winged - Feel Inside
  • Chaotic noise rock from Brooklyn, Heavy Winged is a band that is quite challenging but rewarding after a few listens Aside from some percussion that borders on aggravating at times, this band is seriously heavy and eardrum exploding, but not in the metal sense you'd expect (this is not Sunn 0))) or Corrupted). Take your time and give'em a chance, you'll be hooked:

Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)

Admittedly almost all I read from Stylus was directed to me from you, but I was always impressed, nonetheless.